Why Africana Studies Matters

I had the privilege over the past weekend of attending a reception in honor of Dr. Richard Pierce, who has just completed his tenure as chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Notre Dame.

And it gave me the chance to think about how much Dr. Pierce and the Africana Studies Department have meant and continue to matter to our work here at MSPS.

Professor Pierce

Professor Pierce has worked closely with MSPS as Africana chair, volunteering his time to present late-night lectures about Jim Crow, to moderate discussions about Civil Rights and panels about race and sports, and to provide invaluable guidance regarding MSPS programming.

And MSPS and I, personally, have much for which to thank Professor Pierce: for his generosity, integrity, cooperation, and especially his scholarship and intellect.

Because the reality is that without the participation and cooperation of individuals like Dr. Pierce and the existence and support of the Africana Studies Department, a multicultural student affairs office like ours could not exist.

Simply put, Multicultural Student Programs and Services survives at Notre Dame because of the work of the scholars and activists and teachers in integrative and collaborative ethnic studies areas such as Africana Studies.

The depth and breadth of possibilities, for instance, to engage multicultural issues of race, identity, class, power, and privilege—which we believe are essential to the personal development of every student at Notre Dame—rely heavily on the research and teaching about history, literature, politics, theology, and cultural theory found in a cross-disciplinary department like Africana Studies.

Africana Studies informs what we do, offering our office significant relationships with passionate scholars and teachers, as well as introductions to critical theory and curriculum, upon which we draw every single day in order to inform our student services, our educational programs, our advising, and our interactions.

And even more than its scholarship, Africana Studies is grounded in the shared belief “that the study of the peoples, cultures, and histories related to the discipline are integral to understanding our country and the world we live in more fully.” This effort transcends the academy by ensuring critical educational content is relevant and made essential for the survival not only of the discipline, but of humanity more importantly.

And that’s cool.

And MSPS couldn’t do what we do without the Department of Africana Studies’ scholarship and commitment to like-minded ideals about holistic, integrative multicultural education for everyone at Notre Dame.

Definitely check out Africana Studies and what they have to offer coming up in 2012-2013.

Changes are Inevitable

This summer, we have experienced enormous amounts of extremes from weather to political issues to the lack of consideration of human life. With institutions of high education serving as a microcosm of the world around us, it is not a surprise that we experience the same in some fashion.  The change in campus climate that began in February must be maintained to create the type of university we all will be proud to be a member. What role will you take in this ever changing environment? Will you focus on reducing your carbon footprint? Assist in the assurance that everyone’s voice is heard? It is time to begin considering your involvement in the upcoming academic year.

The “Call to Action” movement is not relegated only to holding ourselves and others accountable; but also taking action to institute change.  Doing the same things; will provide the same results.  Therefore we must consider new strategies to obtain the intended outcomes.  The Hall Orientation Coordinators ended the 2011 -2012 with several weeks of training covering various topics.  MSPS and CORE covered the diversity segment. The commissioners assessed current traditional orientation activities, discussed best practices and how to establish new inclusive welcoming traditions.  As the coordinators prepare for the August Hall Orientation Commissioner Training, they will challenge the 2012 commissioners to address the concerns expressed by numerous undergraduates regardless of ethnicity to make the weekend more meaningful and collegiate.

You as students are constantly giving and working with the disenfranchised. This is done unselfishly.  In the same manner, it is imperative each student ensure that their vote is counted in the 2012 election.  College students were an integral component in the 2008 elections.  Many states have made changes to their voters’ registration laws and not publicized them.  Therefore, check with your local voters’ registration office or go to http://www.thisismyvote.org/  , prior to returning to campus.

Lastly, Congratulations to those who participated in corporate summer leadership programs.  Four Notre Dame first-year students participated in PricewaterhouseCooper’s Semester of Discovery Internship. Only 56 offers were made throughout the country.  Welcome back, Stephanie Aguilera and Jasmine Shells, who have been in Mexico and Spain.  They will share their experiences on the MSPS website: http://msps.nd.edu  Mark your calendars for the first Interrace Forum on September 5th at 5:30 p.m. in the Coleman Morse Student Lounge and MSPS Welcome Back Picnic on September 13 from 4-6pm on North Quad.

Enjoy the last month of your summer vacation. See you in August!!!


Iris L. Outlaw `90MSA
Director                                                                                                                                                                          Multicultural Student Programs and Services

Paragraphiti: International Literature

Notre Dame Master of Fine Arts grad student Alireza Taheri Araghi is Editor-in-Chief of a new collaborative international fiction and poetry in-translation project called, Paragraphiti.

From the Paragraphiti website:

“Paragraphiti is a website dedicated to publishing outstanding international fiction and poetry. The idea of creating Paragraphiti was conceived in 2010 and the website debuted in 2011. We seek to feature quality works of international fiction and poetry with the aim of bringing the best of contemporary world literature to an English-speaking audience.

We are presently able to offer free translations of the Persian works we choose to publish. In the future, we will be offering free translations from other languges as well.”

MSPS is cosponsoring some of this project throughout the upcoming academic year so please do check out the short stories and poetry being updated regularly this summer.

And for writers looking to have their international fiction and poetry writing translated and published, check out how to submit your work to Paragraphiti for consideration.